Blog > Winter Mountaineering

Updates; #skyewinterfest and conditions, Mid-January

14/01/15

Winter feels well untruly underway today with snow on the roads at sea-level and more blizzrds forecast.

Jan 14th

Next week looks far more settled and cold right through to the start of the winter festival. Fingers crossed for more of the same.

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Attendance is looking good too with numbers already booked ranging from half a dozen some nights to over 16 through the central weekend. There are 24 beds available in total each night. Plenty more climbers are weather-watching and planning to come if things are half-decent. If you fit this bracket please give me a heads up unless you have your own van to sleep in. The pub kitchens are having some work done so food won’t be available. If you are local or making own sleeping arrangements you can join us at the bunkhouse for the communal evening meal but we will need notice. Everyone needs to bring their own brekky & lunch.

Old Inn, Carbost, sits among beautiful scenery – Bild von Carbost ...

Loch Harport Oysters on sale in the village but are they good climbing food?

The meet will spill over into the pub next door (obviously just for space reasons not alcohol:-) and there will be illustrated talks or climbing videos early evening most days. Resident staff Farquhar & Seamus are preetty handy on the tunes but any musicians are welcome to join in with the entertainment. All Content © 2014 - The Old Inn, Carbost, Skye.

Bla Bheinn Bumsliding. 28th & 29th December 2014

07/01/15

There were some excellent days of weather over the festive period including Christmas day.

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My own highlight was on Sunday 28th when Icky & I indulged in a walk up Bla Bheinn.

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We spent over an hour of taking in the views on top and finished with a fantastic bumslide descent of the Great Gully that splits the north and south tops. Deep powder gave us a safe ride down half of the vertical height in just a couple of minutes. See the video here-BUMSLIDE; doesn’t get much more fun than this!

 NB. Bumsliding can be potentially dangerous; in 20 years this was only the 2nd time on this gully that conditions have been suitable to take this calculated choice.DSC07333

Inspired by the video footage 9 year old Innes climbed his first winter mountain the next day. An even faster descent more than compensated us for all the hard work and no views and he’s desperate for the next opportunity to come along. Snowballs compulsary!

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Spanked by the weather, 12th December

13/12/14

 

Today’s forecast was for showers clearing through by about 10am so Iain and I were feeling pretty smug on the walk into Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda in beautiful weather.

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Not far up into the corrie we were equally delighted to find thick ice glazing the rocks, just what we’d hoped for after a week of westerly storms.

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We needed crampons for the steep wee section just before the loch and by this time the snow was beginning to fall heavily.

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There aren’t any worthwhile pictures from the following couple of hours; all our efforts were put into fighting against the storm. Uphill, kitting up, and even some climbing but there was no end to the pummeling we were getting from all directions. Retreat was the only option and we finally got some respite a few minutes later in the large cave under Sgurr Sgumain.

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After lunch we went back out into the maelstrom which continued until we had slithered half way back down the corrie. Finally the clouds broke up and lit up our ice kingdom and gave us magical views out to the very moody Inner Hebrides of Rum & Eigg.

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No joy with the climbing but a fantastic day out all the same.

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2015

12/12/14

Skye Winter Climbing Festival 2015

Waterfront Bunkhouse, Old Inn Carbost. January 24th to February 7th 2015

An open invitation to winter climbers and walkers with an interest in the Skye mountains.

Following on from the success of the past 4 years the Skye Winter Climbing Festival has expanded to a whole fortnight! Yep, 2 weeks for climbers to meet up, climb together and enjoy the post-match analysis. The Cuillin truly take on their Alpine status in winter and offer climbing and scenery like nowhere else in Britain. We’re not expecting anyone to come for the whole period but there is a whole lifetime of adventures to be had.109

How does it work?

Nothing complex- Come for as many days as you want. There are beds for 24 people available throughout the fortnight; first come first served. Use the meet as a base for climbing with a regular partner or come and match up. Collectively we make sure that nobody is left partnerless, short of inspiration or too far out of their depth. You can self-cater but, in the past, we’ve pooled together for evening meals with one of our non-climbing friends knocking up a filling hearty meal ready for whenever we get off the hill.

Costs

£14 per night for a bed and £10 per night for evening meal (optional).

Background and information Skye Winter Festival

For the past 4 years staff and close friends of Skye Guides have held an informal winter meet.   The meet has seen high levels of activity including over 20 new winter climbs. It’s not all high-brow climbing however with many parties enjoying the magnificence of the snow-clad Cuillin from the corries, easy peaks and the coast-line. As in summer it is the peaks and ridges that are the greatest attraction with adventures possible in almost any conditions.

Guests have come from far and wide as well as a strong local representation each year. The apres-climb plays a big part for many but only to a level that doesn’t stop the climbing! The festival has allowed us to meet some amazing people and hear about some incredible adventures they’ve had.

What’s to do?

If you’re unfamiliar with what Skye has to offer check out any winter blog posts or an article on “The New Cuillin” for plenty of ideas.

Accommodation

Waterfront Bunkhouse at the Old Inn Evenings are informal; the accommodation has a spacious lounge with TV or there’s the pub next door. We’ve had illustrated talks on a variety of climbing trips, watched videos and guests are welcome to bring anything from musical instruments to their own climbing snaps.

Contact

If you’re interested e-mail mike@skyeguides.co.uk or call telephone Mike on 01471 822 116. Bed reservations will need to be paid for but we can also let you know how busy the different nights are looking. Wwe’ll get you to complete a booking form with your climbing grade, Cuillin experience, and details to help with lift sharing.

Social media

Please keep up to date through the Skye Winter Festival facebook page and retweet news using this shortened URL– http://goo.gl/FFrzPt and #skyewinterfest

Early FAQ

Got your own campervan- You’re still welcome to join us socially. Willy Sutherland’s campervan spot with hook-ups is at the Glen Brittle junction just half a mile away.

Last minute climber- We’re quite used to this scenario and happy for you decide to join us last minute. Keep in touch about space though.

Unsure?- Many of the Winter Meet regulars know the Cuillin very well, especially those who work here as guides. We’ll be offering is route advice and information on the ground but it’s a non-working meet for us and we’re here to play like everyone else. A list of attendees is circulated before the meet with details of their experience & depth of Cuillin knowledge. Through the meet walking and climbing teams slot into place after making acquaintances.

Travel- Let us know where you’re coming from and whether you want to share lifts.

Confused by this blog post?- The commercial aspect of the festival announced in November has been removed to open the meet to a broader audience. If you are one of the regulars who has now found that a far longer meet is planned go book more time off work 😉

Social- The Old Inn is the climbers’ pub in Skye but also a busy local. It’s a lively spot with organised bands and impromptu jamming. In the past we’ve had slideshows and talks, guitars & games. Let us know if you’ve got pictures or musical talents. The bunkhouse itself has an open plan lounge and kitchen area with television.

The Old Inn probably the best pub in Carbost

 

Proper Cold at last. 22 March

22/03/14

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Our great quantities of snow have been frustratingly soft for axe placements all winter but the hard freeze after this weeks thaw has finally given us the hard neve needed to climb some steeper routes. Hopefully a week of fun ahead!

Great day out today but very demanding and serious conditions which is the price to pay for harder snow. We started up Broad Gully then onto Sgurr a Bhasteir. Normally a simple grade I winter route the gully held some steeper sections but mainly a lack of any opportunity to rest the burning calves. Fresh snow drifted on top was thought provoking but our front points were able to bite through.

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The NE Ridge of Sgurr a Bhasteir is also a simple grade I route in both summer and winter ordinarily but sections of hard snow out above the yawning void of the north face heightened concentration & tension about as high as the lactic acid in the legs.

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The reward for all this graft was an immaculate horizontal crest of snow leading into Bealach na Lice and stunning views all around.

The obligatory bumslide was a mix of slow powder and ice sections that positively gave you a warm butt as the speed built up; not recommended anywhere apart from the gentlest of slopes at the minute!

In fact the icy conditions warrant a severe health warning not only in action but also when planning your route; I would certainly hesitate before planning to descend something like the Great Stone Shoot even with all the kit just now because of the combo of hard  snow with deep pockets  of powder.

Enjoy the pics-

First Pinn of the year!

11/03/14

Rachel suggested a look at the Pinn would float her boat last week and I nearly baulked. Luckily a weekend of warm rain hasn’t stripped the Main Cuillin Ridge but has left the Pinn nearly snow free. Crampons & axe were uneccesary precautions but couldn’t begin to spoil the pleasure of a delightful warm reunion with me old mucker Mr Pinn.

Pinns not steep

The Pinn was just a cherry on the cake of a superb alpine outing though. We hit hard snow at under 600m mark and enjoyed perfect consistency right to the summit of Sgurr Dearg.

Long drop

The sun started to do its damage soon after midday but even this was pretty limited with a keen breeze keeping things cool up there.

Snow crest

Time for a Traverse before things break down Thursday evening and I’d suggest seriously contemplating some head-torch time to make good time on the harder snow. You’ll touch rocks at the toe of An Stac for the first time proper and increasingly after that but noty enough to loose crampons from what I saw.

SHould be some clues in the gallery photos-

Back to incredible Cuillin conditions; 2 & 3 March.

03/03/14

P1000383 (800x600)Clach Glas from the Great Prow

It would appear that Skye stayed at least as cold on the tops as the rest of Scotland over the past weekend which I hadn’t anticipated myself. One guy made a fantastic effort on a full Traverse starting by Pinnacle Ridge on Friday, bivvying at Glaic Moire and finally being defeated by winds & blizzards at Mhicchoinnich. He reported near perfect snow conditions with little harder than grade III.

I can certainly confiorm this after 2 excellent days out with Andy & Nick Burton.

GLen sligachanForked Pinnacle Ridge above Glen Sligachan

Winter and Cuillin virgins they coped very well in the howling gales on Banachdaich yesterday and definitely got the luck they deserved with a Traverse of Blaven Today. Out agin in the morning so I’ll just include a gallery below.-

Skiing and Snowboarding in Fionn Choire

15/02/14

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Half way up. We made it about as far as where the cloud is sitting in the corrie.

Time for a change of hobby with all this soft snow. Angus and I loaded ourselves up and headed up into Fionn Choire at the northern end of the Cuillin. Going under foot wasn’t too deep and slow but the extra weight and wind catching the “sails” gave burning thighs.P1000088 (800x600)

Angus getting into the groove

No real action photos but some great videos of Angus boarding on Face Book; start here- https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=249402578571438&saved

I’m not looking forward to videos of my inept skiing leakiing onto the net but I got down in one piece, managed to put in a few turns and can’t wait to do it again.

Gillean Traverse; a full-on experience. 10th Feb

11/02/14

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Approaching the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean today

Chris is off for an expedition to Greenland in April and in serious training mode. Before spending the last 2 days with me he’d been climbing in Glen Coe for a week; his last day meant it was time to brace ourselves for some serious hard work.

With an improved forecast traversing Sgurr nan Gillean was the aim. Trying to decide whether Coir’ a’ Bhasteir  or the Tourist Route would be less arduous was near enough 50:50 so we plummed for the more direct approach by the West Ridge. In the end the snow wasn’t too bad, rarely more than knee deep and we made it to the foot of the West ridge in about 2.5 hours.

2014_0210skyefeb140035 (800x600)Squeezing through The Window; I was surprised it wasn’t blocked.

The rest of the day was more than ample reward for our efforts- a 50m pitch up an incredibly banked out Tooth Chimney even had some nice ice. The ridge above was like something out of Narnia with dramatic sculptures of rounded snow and star-bursts of rime ice on the few rocks left exposed.

The summit cairn and narrow crest of the Tourist Route ahead resembled a weird cross between an anaconda and a beluga whale, intimidating as hell but far easier than in summer thank goodness.

P1130378 (800x600)Summit Cairn and top of the Tourist Route

A quick abseil was followed by a 100m traverse across steeep terrain that, again, proved far easier than its summer equivlant.

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Abseiling down the Tourist Route

Normally the best line follows the ridge down for another 300m or so before cutting northward back towards Sligachan but so much wonderful deep snow was too good to miss. Everything apart from helmets was put into the sacks and, with Sochi in mind, we competed for the bumsliding gold medal. So fantastic were conditions that we ended up with possibly a new Skye record covering just under a kilometre and losing 300m of height in about 5 minutes! Who needs skis?

BumslideLine showing our olympic bumslide

Some of you may have noticed the quality of pictures has dropped dramatically recently. Sadly a common problem with my wonderful Lumix is that the focus motor goes; new one arriving tomorrow so hopefully back to getting some decent shots again soon. The forecast is finally looking cold & promising!

Great outing “snatched from the jaws of rugby temptation”. 8th Feb

09/02/14

Yesterday morning Chris, Nathan and I sat in Glen Brittle watching horizontal plumes of powder ripping off the ridges above us. The afternoon promised even fiercer winds and the temptation to run straight to the pub was strong. Being a bit early for this we steeled ourselves for a bracing wander as far as the winds and deep powder snow would allow us. The decision was rewarded with great snow conditions, hardly a breath of wind until we topped out and an excellent climb. The rugby match results were well worth missing!

DSCF1561 (800x600)Starting out on the Thuilm-Mhadaidh Ridge

Despite yet more heavy snow fall there was very little depth on top of the consolidated layers so progress was rapid. The exception to this was the best bum-slide of the year so far as we shot 500ft down from An Dorus in a matter of seconds.

DSCF1568 (800x600)Chris and I disappearing down the bumslide.

The motto is never write a day off but thats a lot easier said than done with some of the weather we’ve been getting so far this winter!

Enjoy the gallery-

Mega-snow show continues; 6th Feb.

06/02/14

P1130239 (800x600)Our white world with the Red Cuillin horeshoe behind.

Yet more large quantities of snow have fallen over the past few days and I got a tip-off to avoid swimming in the corries.

P1130243 (800x600)Half-way up the NE Ridge (grade I)

Approaching by a ridge somewhat limits objectives but the NE ridge of Sgurr a’ Bhasteir is a firm favourite because it scours and goes, er, firm quicker than most.

P1130222 (800x600)Pinnacle Ridge looking loaded.

What took me by surpise was the narrowness and size of the crest as we traversed into bealach na Lice. It was serious enough that I wanted to be roped up which somewhat surprised Graham & Peter. I may be getting soft but spying the boundary between the banked powder on either side was proving impossible. The drops may be less but this was a mini Rochefort Arete and Peter pointed out that the Alps normally have a trench of footsteps showing the best way!

P1130263 (800x600)Our mini-Rochefort Arete

At the head of Fionn Choire the drifts are now building up into huge bulging humps that must be rising 3 or 4 metres above the rocks. Huge fins of rime ice point out to the south-west and the summit cairn of Bruach na Frithe is nearly buried completely.

P1130271 (800x600)This fin was over half a metre long. They grow into the prevailing wind.

The knee-deep snow as we dropped down Fionn Choire just exaggerated my thought that I wish I had got skis; it would have been perfect right down to 1000ft!

Cuillin Ridge crest in full winter garb

03/02/14

The weather finally settled down a wee bit in the middle of last week, enough for Ally and I to get out and see what all this wild weather has produced. Very impressive indeed!

plasteredAlly abseiling down from Bealach Thormaid

We opted for a broad open gully line that finishes near the sumit of Sgurr na Banachdaich. The line traverses out almost horizontally for 100m from just below the Bealach Thormaid on the Coruisk side. A short, 30m, steeper section leads up into a broad finishing bowl and the summit above. It was short and sweet giving 4 pitches and grade II for the steep section in the conditions we found.

False Gully IIHigh above Coruisk after the steep section.

I scrambled up the same line a couple of years ago in snow-free conditions. In summer it is often taken by mistake by climbers heading north along the Ridge so we’ve called it False Gully. Hopefully, in time, this will raise awareness of its presence as a false trail for future parties.

Sun rays over Rum

Wild & wonderful on Banachdaich, 27 January.

27/01/14

Exposure beneath central top

 

Traversing benath the Central top of Banachdaich.

A wild and stormy start to the day was supposed to clear by 10am but nobody told the Cuillin weather gods. However, despite the appalling weather, snow conditions underfoot were very good. The fresh snow still had a lot of damp in it and should harden readily if we can get a freeze before the next thaw. I’d even go so far as to suggest a Winter Traverse might be possible.

Coated crestNearing 3rd top of Banachdaich

Its the first time that I’ve ever had my group shelter out “in anger”; providing shelter to add extra layers and eat a good quantity before pushing on to the top. We would only have managed a quick bite in that weather otherwise. It was a no brainer to whip it out again when we reached the top and needed to put the crampons and harnesses on. Although we carry them every day its only in extremis that this piece of kit really proves its worth.

From the summit we traversed the ridge southward to Bealach na Banachdaich. Fresh snow had only drifted up to about a foot or so deep and I knew it was lying mainly straight onto rock (this end of the crest was virtually snow-free by Tuesday last week) so had very few worries about it breaking away.Snowy descent

With little sign of improvement we decided against ascending to look at the Pinn and fought our way down into the stinging hailstones. Again we were lucky with underfoot conditions, ditched crampons early and slid our way down deep banks of fluffy white-stuff:-)

Happy chappies

3rd Pinnacle of Gillean, 25 January

26/01/14

Conditions on Pinnacle Ridge yesterday were absolutely excellent but very serious at the same time. We put crampons on at the foot of 1st/2nd Gully and had great neve from then onwards.

IMG_4945 (800x600)Topping out of 1st / 2nd Gully

Sadly squeezing any routes in between the storms this month is a frantic business. Our attempt on Pinnacle Ridge was cut short but climbing the 3rd Pinnacle on its own felt like a a very full-on adventure.

A broad streak of thick snow ran straight to the top of the 3rd Pinnacle and we reached it in 2 50m pitches.

P1130080 (600x800)2 long pitches took us up the continuos line of snow from left to the very top.

 

The abseil from the top nearly reached the col below but not quite so a hanging belay had to be excavated.

P1130086 (600x800)Hanging belay on 3rd Pinnacle

The traverse out onto Knight’s Peak is always exposed and knarly with a swing into the void for both leaders and seconds a distinct possiblity.

Spacewalking (800x600)Spacewalking out onto the 4th Pinnacle

With time against us and softer snow on the changed aspect we decided to run away with an abseil down to the east. A particularly black cloud engulfed us soon after, lashed us with hail that created a beautiful waterfall effect as they slooshed down the steep faces above.

Waterfalls of hailstones2 (600x800)Waterfalls of hailstones

As it was we finished in the dark so twas a sound decision. Hopefully back for the full ascent tomorrow if these winds calm down!

 

 

Winter Climbing Meet 2014 photos and links.

26/01/14

16 of us met in the Glen Brittle Memorial Hut last weekend for the annual Skye winter meet. The weather gods were gathering payback from us for such stonking conditions in 2013 but enthusiasm got everyone out still to build up an appetite for food and beers.P1020625 (600x800)Romain gives instructions on how to fondue and raclette- Over 5kg of cheese was consumed!

Friday was excellent and all 7  of the early arrivers headed to the snowy north end. Dave and John climbed North-west Face Route (II) on Gillean, Romain and Steve the NW Ridge of Bruach na Frithe

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while Ian, Dave and I found some ice on Running on Numpty (II) on the flank of Sgurr a’ Bhasteir.

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Dave and Ian after climbing Running on Numpty

Dave went back to Bruach na Frithe with Nicola the next day and won again, the only team to brave the showers and they won with a 360 panorama from the top. Link to dave Bowdlers shots- https://plus.google.com/photos/103884480644177632031/albums/5970627149310564129

Other activities included walks out to Macleod’s Maidens &  Glamaig. Some great dry-tooling was found just along from the beach and further out towards Ruabh Dunain and Lucy Janni and I climbed onto the Cioch for a sword fight.P1020641 (800x600)Lucy leading Slab Corner up to the Cioch

Romain’s videos- http://youtu.be/WbhbMYzGu7I

Romain’s photos- https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=7CD9146C44E3A670&id=7CD9146C44E3A670%212328&v=3&authkey=%21AAKu0MCarsqnP9U

Thanks to everyone for showing their support, fine effort all around.

Great conditions for Eag Dubh and the Ridge crest

14/01/14

Temperatures dropped overnight and left us a good thicknes of snow from about 650m today. I did worry about avalanches but snow pits showed a very old layer with 2 or 3 fresher layers resonably well bonded above.

Lined Eag Dubh AnDorus

The clouds clung thinly to the Ridge almsot all day but parted frequently enough to let us appreciate the grandeur of our surroundings.

do you want to see my puppies

Hard graft  Romp to the top Rooftop finale

A Torridonian Treat; 4th January 2014

07/01/14

Jim, Merrissa and I ended the week on a high with an ascent of Liathach over on the mainland. On Friday night we braved wild weather just to drive the 70 miles and then a 10 minute walk to the Ling Hut in the dark and driving rain. Next morning little seemed to have changed by 8am but the forecast came right just before 9.

Archive photo of the SMC Ling hut with Liathach behind; our route gained the crest at the right edge and traversed to the obvious high point called Spidean a’ Choire Leith (1055m)

The ascent is quite possibly the fiercest anywhere in the UK, rising from 30m above sea-level to 833m in little over a kilometre.We put crampons on at about 700m and it was obvious our descent was going to be concentrated.

our route behind us

Along the crest the snow was immaculate with just a small amount of give in a uniform covering.

Sun over Maol Carn Dearg

Roped together we wandered for the next hour in an almost dream-like manner with amazing light on the views all around.

 

Western Ridge of LiathachFrom the summit the ridge still stretched away into the distance but a lack of time and light meant we reluctantly had to turn heel and begin our descent.Luckily a direct slope back into Coire Liath Mhor gave a good fast start to this stage. A lip of rock below made us do a short abseil before traversing back towards our original path.

I realised it had been over 10 years since my last pilgramage to Torridon; this left me with mixed feelings of embarressment but mainly joy at rediscovering the hills I used to know so well. Liathach is 2nd only to Ben Nevis for mainland mountains I have climbed on. It won’t be long before I’m back again.

Good to be back

Hogmanay fun; 31st December

03/01/14

Jim & I were on the verge of aborting today because of the rain and winds. Returning to base the red Cuillin peaks all around were suddenly clear and highly attractive with a warm cuppa in hand!

2 minutes back down the road we set off past the waterfall with the long snowfields on the North Face of Garbh-bheinn. These turned out to be very fine with crampons needed pretty much from the first patches of snow at 500m. 1000ft and an hour later we’d explored some exciting buttress terrain as well as the easy gully features to reach the summit.

Descending with N face below JimLooking down on the north face of Garbh-bheinn as we descended

Windows soon appeared through the mist as we descended. Golden light reflected off the sea at Camasunary. Gradually views into the main Cuillin appeared with mists being turned pink by the setting sun behind.

Looking good on the Ridge, 29th December

29/12/13

Beautiful calm day today for some Cuillin exploration.

Early clouds dispersed to leave us magnificent views up to the Coire Lagan peaks.P1120706 (800x600)

Sgurr Mhiccoinnich

The kids all enjoyed the boulders while waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

I love the light at this time of year with the subtle hues of dawn pretty much blending in with the sunset.

P1120713 (800x600)Rum & Eigg silouetted in the mid-winter sun

Climbers will be interested in the conditions and potential fun just now; below is my report for UKClimbing. I’ve put a zoomed picture of the top of Sgurr Dearg and the In Pinn immediately below.

“The heavy snows have been stripped out right up to 700m but, above this, serious quantities are still plastering all rocks. With temperatures up to 7 degrees or so yesterday it is very likely to have thawed to the tops and is now solidifying nicely.
Worth an attempt on a Traverse if we can get a settled period of weather but I can’t spot that window myself.
Not much ice visible and all but the steepest mixed lines likely to be swamped. Not sure it is cold enough for the plastered snow to be much use.”

P1120723 (800x600)West flank of Dearg summit plastered in deep snow; I would expect lots of rock showing through after a thaw normally.

Gallery-

Bruach na Frithe Blizzards, 19th December

19/12/13

Ben has been dealt more than his fair share of weather for his course but enthusiasm and attitude has given us a couple of excellent days.

Braes to Raasay

Yesterday we avoided the wind down on the beach at the Braes with a refresher session on gear placements and retrieving abseil ropes. We finished with a great bit of fun dry-tooling up a greasy steep corner.Dry tooling braes With nearly zero friction for the feet it was a fight to the top but great lesson (for both of us!) in trusting thin placements.

This morning winds dropped to gale force instead of storm force so we headed past the Fairy Pools toward the Spur of Sgurr an Fheadian. It looked very dry and unlikely we would need crampons so we gambled instead on heading higher, hoping that the wind gods would be kind.

A tail-wind up the Tairnilear stone shoot was most welcome.

Reaching TairnilearA good coating of ice covered almost every rock for the final 100m of ascent and crampons were a definite good move.

The view

 

Peace from the wind over the crest of the Ridge was made even better by the subtle colours out towards Blaven and beyond.

Snow started falling as we set off and everything turned white very soon after but the wind was steady more than gusting and we made good progress, reaching the top in about 2 hours.Maelstrom

Midst of the heavy snow shower

The descent down Fionn Choire was another matter as we were battered from every direction, slapped by walls of spindrift and pelted by hail that felt more like lead shot; strangely no pics;-)

Our routeOur route went from the V-notch leftward to Bruach na Frithe.

Enjoy the gallery-

Conditions update & forecast at 17th December.

17/12/13
glamaig 17 12 13Sunlit smattering on Glamaig on Monday (16th) morning
Just a quick update to say that its been cool for 48 hours with a thin covering reaching down to about 600m. It seems unlikely this lot will survive the wet thaw due tomorrow but continued gales and cold pulsing in again on Thursday. Not ideal in the short term but general wind-chill and cold snaps forecast over Xmas should hopefully see Santa leaving us a good base for the rest of the season.
Here’s MWIS outlook this morning- “Frequent severe gales and intermittent storm force winds (or stronger) on the mountains well into and perhaps throughout the Christmas period. Precipitation will be considerable on western mountains, with a series of freeze-thaw cycles on all mountain areas. Cold conditions (when snow will lie on lower slopes) will be prevalent across Scotland, less so elsewhere.”
Plenty of time for “altitude training” 😉

Cheeky conditions on Clach Glas

07/12/13

 

Chris and I snatched a Clach Glas crossing between the tropical rains of Tuesday and northern gales of Thursday but not without a fight. A mix of snow and dry rock allowed us to reach the summit without crampons but they were obligatory on the sketchy descent.P1120239 (800x600)

Sheltered sunny approach

The pics are a pretty true reflection of the weather, we only got hit by one heavy snow shower on the summit, but don’t do the wind any justice. Unpredictable gusts added spice and watering eyes knocked the concentration; we were certainly glad to be roped the whole way!P1120242 (800x600)

Ridge view

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Down-climb early on

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Summit view north

P1120252 (800x600)Summit view south

We happily dropped out of the maelstrom by the screes below the Putting Green and reached the car before darkness and the real storm arrived.

Winter begins :-)

23/11/13

 

Stars last night created a heady mix of anticipation for great things so Ally and I packed a full rack and ropes. Sadly we woke to a murky warm (7 degrees) morning and fought hard to keep up the enthusiasm. Adopting the “you can’t do it if you’re not there” philosophy is always best though and we got our just desserts.P1120088 (800x600)

Once in Coir’ a’ Bhasteir it was obvious that the thaw wrote off anything too technical so instead we opted for a traverse of Sgurr nan Gillean.P1120110 (600x800)

Tooth Chimney provided good sport and much amusement to gain the West Ridge.P1120100 (600x800)

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Conditions were variable so we opted to stay roped up to the summit.P1120114 (800x600)

The sun stayed out for most of this rise and the mists rolled around providing tantalising glimpses of Am Basteir and Pinnacle Ridge.

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Descending the “Tourist Route” we stuck to the crest of the ridge and down-climbing snow-clad grade 3 scrambling certainly tested us.P1120119 (600x800)

The only real rain eventually caught up with us but only for about 5 minutes. Payback was a full parting of the mists to reveal the autumn colours beautifully lit by evening sunshine and a pair of eagles rounded off the aesthetics nicely.

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For me the first day out in winter is always double-edged; inevitable pain from carrying all the extra metal-work is countered by the thrills and wonderful beauty of our play area. I can confirm, and feel, both sides of the winter sword this evening!P1120090 (600x800)

Munros update-Gillean, Mhadaidh & Am Basteir. 25-27April

28/04/13

 

didn’t comment on conditions yet so here goes-
Old snow pack started to go off on Thursday but top 100m of An Dorus rock hard on Fri. Softening again Saturday. Fresh building up on the old snow but reasonably well bonded.
Fresh snow each day added interest to the ridges; quite good quantities actually made far more pleasant than expected with mostly good footings rather than squealing on rocks.
Overall you do need crampons for any of the narrower sections of Ridge for sure. Easier peaks & slopes may be okay just now but beware days following clear sky nights.
Full Traverse looking very improbable for a wee while yet…

Brief selection of recent pics; I’ll label when less busy but you’ll get the idea!

Great snow fun this week; Ann-Marie’s 60th birthday on Gillean, 20 years since we first met, aghhh.

Then Preston & Mark learning to love their crampons & axe over 2 seperate days.

Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh; 24th April

25/04/13

Fresh snow overnight left the hills beautiful today as the clouds cleared and sun shone.

 

Stuart did superbly on his first outing in crampons with an ascent of the Eag Dubh gully.

 

Grade I but very exciting- at one point the snow had formed into a narrow (18″) crest that we had to tip-toe up!

 

The ridge above to the summit of Ghreadaidh was full value excitement but with enough exposed rocks for anchors to keep us secure.

 

We watched Scott, Von & Graham climb partway up the In Pinn before backing off because of some gusty winds.

 

Descent was equally challenging but the pressure eased off once we were about 100m below An Dorus with a great glissade back to the corrie floor.

 

Cuillin Conditions update 23rd April. Bring crampons!

23/04/13

Sgurr MhicCoinnich, Sgurr Thearlaich and the Great Stone Shoot

UPDATE More up to date photos have been added  at the foot of the page from 23 April.

As the first May bank holiday approaches rapidly snow fields in the Cuillin aren’t melting very fast at all; in fact there is more snow forecast over the weekend ahead. The heavy winter has left the old snow very consolidated; nearly a week of warm wet westerlies only removed a small percentage of this with north facing snow slopes appearing almost untouched. Most of the photos here were taken last Friday 19th April. Sue, Jane and I enjoyed beautiful weather and an ascent of Sgurr na  Banachdaich.

Sgurr Thormaid and Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh in detail

MUNROS

Crampons will be needed for almost all of the Cuillin Munros with the exception of Sgurr na Banachdaich, Bla bheinn and Sgurr nan Eag. The In Pinn may be possible without crampons if the south facing slab to the foot of the route washes down & gets some sun over the next few days. Approach by the West Ridge of Sgurr Dearg has small snow patches but is quite well stepped.

TRAVERSES & CLASSICS

Classic routes such as the Traverse, Pinnacle Ridge, Coire Lagan will be very serious undertakings. Linking any peaks still involves a choice of adhering rigidly to the crest or scarily traversing steep snow that is sitting on the normal ledge systems; both slow work compared to ideal summer conditions. Clach Glas is almost clear of snow but the ascent to Blaven is definitely still axe & crampon terrain. Descent from the Putting Green is possible but some caution still needed in the first few hundred feet. Kings Chimney will be way preferable to Collies Ledge for a while to come. More abseils will be required than normal so extra tat should be carried. Quite a few parties have been using snow bollards for anchors too.

DESCENTS

We are choosing our objectives as carefully as possible to avoid long snowfield descents; going up snow slopes is a lot safer than going down! Particularly daunting are the Great Stone Shoot, Coire a’ Bhasteir, Coire na Banachdaich and An Dorus. See the close-up shot of Great Stone Shoot above. Be prepared to turn in and front point down for some quite long distances with ice axe likely to be in “dagger” position.

ROCK CLIMBING

South facing crags were incredibly dry and snow free until the latest rain arrived. They are likely to dry rapidly again luckily, just be careful on descents. The Cioch is clear but Eastern Gully has still got some big snow patches in and may affect choice of descent. There’s always the suntraps at the coast if the hills are too cold; guidebooks for Cuillin or Seacliffs can be ordered through this website if you need them.

UPDATE PICS 23 APRIL

Pinnacle Ridge

Am Basteir

Coire a Bhasteir